Just hours before the magazine went to press last week, Do It Again, the well-anticipated collaborative EP from Norwegian electronic duo, Röyksopp, and Swedish pop-vocalist Robyn, was officially released after weeks of speculation about it.
Leading the EP, “Monument” feels like it was nearly a tribute act to Röyksopp’s Melody A.M.-era musical style. The vocals are too far down Robyn’s range to really demonstrate what a powerful singer she actually is. The gentle saxophony is incredibly evocative of “She’s So” from Röyksopp’s debut album, although long bridges wending through the song connect unremarkable vocal sections of the song through walls of nearly toneless noise.
“Sayit” is a superb piece of micro-house semi-minimalism, almost like The Field meets Téo & Téa-era Jean-Michel Jarre. Unlike “Monument”, it doesn’t drag on and on, adding flicks of colour and flavour at every change, subtle nuances in every moment of the song. The final chorus is a perfect conclusion to the minutes of build-up before it.
“Do It Again” is to Do It Again as “Get Lucky” was to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories: actual pop-flavoured electronica, almost jarringly out of place to the songs before it. Indeed, it actually showcases Robyn’s fantastic power as a highly skilled vocalist, against a superbly-constructed song that doesn’t fall prey to too many cliches of the genre, unlike the next song. The neat closing riff is moderately annoying, though: it could definitely be taken onto its own and expanded to a superb song.
“Every Little Thing” takes the EP on a momentary trip through what I would describe as mainstream trash. Even if it opens with something of a Röyksopp trope, the sound that emerges is almost exactly a song from another of a long line of pop artists with supposedly soaring vocals smeared with too much reverb and vocal multipliers and characterised by an inability to enunciate clearly.
“Inside The Idle Hour Club” is the redemption of the collection: flavours of Röyksopp, through and through. It’s subtle, careful and calm, measured and atmospheric, and it embodies everything that I find beautiful about Röyksopp. The near-total lack of vocals lets the superb combination of intricately woven melody and electronic buzz come to the fore.
I found it plaid and predictable in places, especially compared to earlier works from both artists, although it’s obvious that Röyksopp has worked hard to add flavour and dynamism to every moment of the song. The opening and closing, with walls of synthesised pads wending through long filter chains, is more evocative of the Röyksopp we once knew, and the vocals aren’t nearly present enough to even offer much of a judgement of Robyn’s talent. Its length is unsatisfying, and it doesn’t feel so much like a collaboration as I expected. If ever there was an album that exemplified how musicians converge to the mainstream, it is this one.